Prose poetry or poetic prose? It would be wrong to strictly say that prose cannot be as poetic and contemplative of language as poetry is; however, the form of prose poetry alleviates the restrictive nature of rigorously rhymed poetry. So what then makes prose, poetry? Lavish, rich, contemplative language brands poetry, intensifying imagery and emotion. Conversely (or comparably), appreciation of character, description, and narrative is relished in prose. Therefore, in theory, prose poetry is a person who dips their toe in two pools; but should, or is there, such a thing as these separate pools? If we restrictively pigeonhole poetry and prose, then are we building walls around a beautiful genre of expression?
Why should forms be kept separate if tangling the two is so effective?
Prose poetry creates a great platform. It means that- almost- anything could be poetry, including your shopping list, but this is a separate debate. I’d take up the whole newspaper with that one…
Take Simon Armitage’s ‘Seeing Stars’ as an example. It is categorised as prose poetry, but in all its wit and unpredictability it could easily be categorised as under the genre of short stories. What prose poetry provides is a format to combine the two. Armitage’s poems are dramatic, humorous, and highly unpredictable. The language is full of unexpected puns and often bleak undertones brought to life by the swift narratives prose allows. Adventurous stories glitter through the elevated form. Prose poetry appears as prose, but transforms into poetry when read.
Perhaps my favourite prose poet is Michael Rosen – yes, you’ve probably heard of him through memes but he is a serious poet too – who captures casual snippets of narrative in a refreshingly clear way. The simplistic language sculpts his naturalistic form; the freedom of prose makes his poems all the more direct, with the juxtaposing strands of hilarity and melancholy woven throughout.
Consequently, prose poetry as a genre is a truly interesting platform of expression, bending the rules of poetry as well as prose. Despite the term, in a sense, contradicting itself through combing two separate forms, it is evident that it is completely creative and stylistically freeing. Why should forms be kept separate if tangling the two is so effective? Poetry does not have to be defined by its length on a page or a rhyme scheme, nor does prose need to be solely there for narrative; elegance and complexity of language are just as essential. Prose poetry bridges the gap in the two forms in an interestingly pleasurable and intricate way, which is forgotten by many.